MARSHALL?- Both the Koran and the Bible have references to loving thy neighbor, said Sheik Osman, a board member of the Islamic Center of Marshall, so whomever defaced the sign outside the meeting place on Main Street should follow that rule. The person also needs to make amends and find out more about the Islamic culture.
"What he or she knows now is just stereotypes from the media," Osman said. "That person should listen to what we have to say - get firsthand information - and then decide to ask for forgiveness."
Osman said the Islamic community does not want to press charges against the vandal, but instead wants to educate and come together neighbor to neighbor.
Photo by Karin Elton
Sheik Osman of Minneapolis stands in the prayer hall at the Islamic Center of Marshall where Muslim men pray together.
"I study the Bible," Osman said. "I've noted where it says at least eight times to love your neighbor as yourself."
Osman said Chapter 4, Verse 36 in the Koran includes the phrase "be good to the neighbor who is near of kin and the neighbor who is a stranger."
Although the Muslim community bought the Main Street house two years ago, the sign saying Islamic Center of Marshall was recently placed in the front yard - and was promptly defaced with orange spray paint in April. Other incidents of vandalism took place around Marshall at that time as well including Holy Redeemer Catholic Church.
"No one has the right to go to a place of worship and vandalize," Osman said. "What is the benefit?"
Osman said he doesn't know who did the damage - "it could be a Christian, it could be a Muslim. There are bad Christians and there are bad Muslims."
Osman said the Center is a place to prayer and is also a community center.
"It's a place of worship and socializing among Muslim men, women and children. Non-Muslims are welcome to ask any questions," he said.
The Muslim community had rented a meeting space in downtown Marshall, but were able to buy a house to have a permanent location. The house was damaged in the July 1 storm, so it has received new siding and roofing. The house is undergoing other renovations as well.
"We are making the garage into a space for the women to pray," said Ahmed Omar, the owner of the Hindi grocery store and deli in Marshall.
Currently there is a kitchen and dining room and a room for children to do homework or watch TV. They also want to create a play area for children.